HARP

The government’s new HARP Refinance Program is now available to homeowners everywhere. Click here to get a HARP refinance rate quote.

Even if your property is underwater at this point in time, if you have a conforming, conventional mortgage, you may still be eligible to refinance without having to pay down your balance by thousands of dollars or pay mortgage insurance.

Here are the current details of the government’s new HARP refinance program.  As always, guidelines are subject to change without notice. If you are qualified for this program, you should Get a HARP refi quote now.

What Is HARP?

HARP was started in April 2009. It goes by several names. The government calls it HARP, it’s an acronym for “Home Affordable Refinance Program”.

The program is also known as the Making Home Affordable plan, the Obama Refi plan, DU Refi +, and Relief Refinance.

In order to be eligible for the HARP refinance program :

  1. Your loan must be “owned” by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  This is easily found out.
  2. Your current mortgage must have a securitization date prior to June 1, 2009.  This can be more difficult to find out.

Just meeting the above conditions does not make you HARP eligible.  Contact me to find out more.   Jumbo, FHA, VA and USDA loans are NOT HARP-eligible.

HARP : Questions and Answers

How do I know if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac has my mortgage?

As you can imagine, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been swamped with requests to determine if a loan is owned by them.  They each have created lookup forms on their respective websites. Check Fannie Mae’s first because they hold more loans. If no match is found, then check Freddie Mac. Your loan must be owned by Fannie or Freddie for you to be eligible for HARP.

Is “HARP” the same thing as the government’s “Making Home Affordable” program?

Yes, the names HARP and Making Home Affordable are interchangeable.

If my mortgage is held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, am I instantly-eligible for the Home Affordable Refinance Program?

No. There is a series of criteria. Having your mortgage held by Fannie or Freddie is just a pre-qualifier.

My mortgage is held by Fannie/Freddie. Now what do I do?

Find a recent mortgage statement and write “Fannie Mae” or “Freddie Mac” on it — whichever group owns your home loan — so you don’t forget. That information is critical to me in helping process your loan quickly. Click here for your HARP rate quote.

I make my payments to Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo or some other lender. Can I still get a HARP refinance?

The fact is that most of the “big banks” mentioned by name above as well as dozens of others are merely “servicers” for loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  They receive a small fee every month for collecting your payments, keeping the records and passing the money onto the owner of the loan (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac).  That is why it’s suggested to start with the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Websites.

My lender won’t do HARP. Can I use HARP with another lender?

Some lenders won’t do HARP loans. No lender has to participate. However, you can use any HARP participating lender to get your HARP refinance done. My company, American Portfolio Mortgage is doing all HARP eligible loans. The government is interested in getting as many people as possible into this program for a variety of reasons. See what a HARP rate for your loan would be by clicking here.

My mortgage is serviced by Cenlar. Cenlar told me they don’t do new mortgages. Am I eligible for HARP?

Cenlar is a mortgage servicer. It, and several other loan servicers do not offer new mortgages, HARP or otherwise. However, that has no bearing on your ability to get a HARP refinance. You can work with any participating lender as long as your loan is eligible as described above, so start now. You can also Click this link to get a rate quote and see your options.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac don’t have a record of my mortgage?

If neither Fannie nor Freddie has record of your mortgage, your loan is not likely HARP-eligible. However, you may still be eligible for a “standard” refinance to lower rates. Click here to get a HARP refinance quote to see your options.

I have a jumbo mortgage, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

No.  At this point in time, Jumbo loans are not eligible for HARP refinancing.

I have an FHA loan, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

No.  At this point in time, FHA loans are not eligible for HARP refinancing.  However, FHA loans are eligible for streamline refinancing detailed here.

I am behind on my payments, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

No. You must be current on your mortgage to refinance via HARP.

If I refinanced with HARP when it came out, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

No. One HARP refinance per property.  Additionally if you had a previous HARP refinance your current loan was securitized after May 31, 2009.

I have an Alt-A mortgage, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

No.  At this point in time, Jumbo loans are not eligible for HARP refinancing.

I have an interest only mortgage, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

Yes, but your new loan will not be an interest only loan.  New interest only loans are not being offered under most circumstances at this time.

My home is not underwater, but my value has dropped, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

You are HARP eligible if you are not underwater.

I have more than 20% equity in my home, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

No, you cannot use HARP unless you have less than 20% equity in your home.

Does HARP work the same with Fannie Mae as with Freddie Mac?

For all intents and purposes, yes.  There are some small differences that actually matter more to your new lender for processing purposes rather than anything that may impact your eligibility.

My current lender sent me a HARP rate quote. It looks like a high interest rate. Should I shop it around?

Yes, you should always shop any mortgage rate quote. Many lenders quote the rates a bit high to current customers figuring you may not shop around.  You may save a lot of money just by getting a second opinion. Click here for a second opinion rate quote.

I applied for a loan and the lender said that I’m not eligible for HARP. I think they are wrong. Can I get a second opinion?

If you’ve been turned down for HARP but believe that you’re eligible, apply with another lender and see what happens. Every lender has their own guidelines based on the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines. Some lenders are willing to work with more unique circumstances. If you’ve been turned down for HARP loan for reasons other then eligibility, click here to get rate quote from a different bank.

I applied for a loan and was denied my HARP mortgage because my LTV is too high. Can I get a second opinion?

If you’ve been turned down for HARP but believe that your LTV makes you eligible, apply with another lender and see what happens. Every lender has their own guidelines based on the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines. Some lenders are willing to work with more unique circumstances. If you’ve been turned down for HARP loan for reasons other then eligibility, click here to get rate quote from a different bank.

My lender denied my HARP mortgage because credit scores are too low. What do I do?

If you’ve been turned down for HARP but believe that your credit score makes you eligible, apply with another lender and see what happens. Every lender has their own guidelines based on the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines. Some lenders are willing to work with more unique circumstances. If you’ve been turned down for HARP loan for reasons other then eligibility, click here to get rate quote from a different bank.

Are HARP mortgage rates different than “standard” mortgage rates?

Mortgage rates for the HARP mortgage program are in the same ballpark as for a “traditional” refinance.

Should I shop for the lowest HARP mortgage rates?

As with any mortgage you should shop for the best package of rates and fees on your HARP mortgage refinance. HARP mortgage rates vary from bank-to-bank and so do closing costs. Talk to at least 2 banks so you can know you’re getting a fair deal. Click here for a HARP rate quote.

Will the Home Affordable Refinance Program help me avoid foreclosure?

No. HARP is designed to refinance current borrowers, who have had a drop in value to today’s lower rates.

What are the minimum requirements to be HARP eligible?

First, your home loan must be paid on time for the prior 6 months, and at least 11 of the most recent 12 months. Second, your mortgage must have been sold to Fannie or Freddie prior to June 1, 2009. And, third, you may not have used the program before — only one HARP refinance per mortgage is allowed.

Will HARP reduce my mortgage balance?

No, HARP does not reduce your mortgage balance. HARP refinances your current loan balance.

My mortgage was securitized shortly after the HARP deadline of May 31, 2009. Can I get a waiver or exception?

No, there are no exceptions to this date for HARP. If your loan was not securitized on, or before, May 31, 2009, you cannot use the program.

My mortgage closed in May 2009 but wasn’t securitized until after the June 1, 2009 cutoff date. Can I get a waiver or exception for HARP?

No, there are no exceptions to this date for HARP. If your loan was not securitized on, or before, May 31, 2009, you cannot use the program.

Why was the date May 31, 2009 chosen as the HARP deadline?

The first HARP program was rolled out originally in 2010 and this date was reasonable cutoff at that time.

I refinanced into a HARP loan a few years ago, but my lender never told me it was a HARP loan. I feel like I was lied to. Can I use the program again under the expanded HARP guidelines?

No. One HARP refinance per property.  Additionally if you had a previous HARP refinance your current loan was securitized after May 31, 2009.

Is there a loan-to-value restriction for HARP?

No. All homes — regardless of how far underwater they are — are eligible for the HARP program. Click here for a rate quote.

I am really far underwater on my mortgage. Can I use HARP?

Yes, you can use HARP even if you’re really far underwater on your mortgage. There is no loan-to-value restriction under the HARP mortgage program so long as your new mortgage is a fixed rate loan with a term of 30 years or fewer.

Let me explain. I am ridiculously far underwater on my mortgage. Are you sure I am HARP eligible?

Yes, I am sure. The new HARP mortgage program specifically has no loan-to-value restriction so that homeowners in Florida, California, Arizona and Nevada can take advantage of it.  We have personally closed loans with loan-to-value ratios over 175%. HARP is now unlimited LTV for fixed rate loans with 30-year terms or less.

If I refinance with HARP using an ARM, do I still get “unlimited LTV”?

No, if you use an ARM for HARP, you are limited to 105% loan-to-value. Only fixed rate loans get the unlimited LTV treatment.

Why does my bank say I’m limited to 105% LTV with my HARP refinance? I want a fixed-rate loan.

Not all banks are honoring the HARP mortgage guidelines as they are written and one common “edit” is to change the maximum allowable LTV. You may want to get a HARP rate quote from another lender (like the one I work for) — one that won’t restrict your loan size. Click here for a HARP rate quote.

Why does my bank say I’m limited to 125% LTV with my HARP refinance? I want a fixed-rate loan.

Not all banks are honoring the HARP mortgage guidelines as they are written and one common “edit” is to change the maximum allowable LTV. You may want to get a HARP rate quote from another bank — one that won’t restrict your loan size.

Will my home require an appraisal with the HARP mortgage program?

Possibly. It’s true your home’s value doesn’t matter for the HARP mortgage program.  However, lenders will run what’s called an “automated valuation model” (AVM) on your home. If the value meets reliability standards, no physical appraisal will be required. However, your lender may choose to commission a physical appraisal anyway — just to make sure your home is “standing” or is actually owner occupied if you represented it as such on your application.

Is HARP the same thing as an FHA Streamline Refinance?

No, the HARP mortgage program is administered through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHA Streamline Refinances are performed through the FHA. The programs have similarities, however.

I have an FHA mortgage, am I or can I become HARP eligible?

No, you cannot use the HARP program for an FHA loan. If your current mortgage is backed by the FHA, and your home is underwater, use the FHA Streamline Refinance program. Click here for details about this program.

I have a USDA mortgage. Am I or can I become HARP eligible?

No, you cannot use the HARP program for a USDA loan. If your current mortgage is backed by the USDA, and your home is underwater, use the USDA’s Refinance program. Click here for a USDA mortgage quote.

I have a VA mortgage. Am I or can I become HARP eligible??

No, you cannot use the HARP 2.0 program for a VA loan. If your current mortgage is backed by the VA, and your home is underwater, use the VA’s IRRRL program. Click here to get VA mortgage rates.

Does Ginnie Mae participate in the HARP Refinance program?

No, Ginnie Mae does not participate in the HARP Refinance program. Ginnie Mae is associated with FHA mortgages — not conventional ones. HARP is for conventional mortgages only.

Do I have to HARP refinance with my current mortgage lender?

No, you can do a HARP refinance with any participating mortgage lender.

So, I can use any mortgage lender for my HARP Refinance?

Yes. With the Home Affordable Refinance Program, you can refinance with any participating HARP lender. Click here for a HARP rate quote.

My current bank says that they’re the only ones who can do my HARP Refinance. Is that true?

No, that’s not true. Or, at least it shouldn’t be. There are very few instances in which a HARP applicant will be precluded from shopping for the best rate. It’s doubtful that your situation is one of them.

My current mortgage is with [YOUR LENDER HERE] and I don’t like them. Can I work with another bank?

Yes, with HARP, you can work with any participating lender in the country. Click here for a HARP rate quote.

My bank says I can’t get a HARP loan unless I work with them. Is that true?

Except in rare cases, no. With HARP, you can work with any participating lender in the country. Plenty of lenders want your business.  Including the one I work for.

I put down 20% when I bought my home. My home is now underwater. If I refinance with HARP, will I have to pay mortgage insurance now?

No, you won’t need to pay mortgage insurance. If your current loan doesn’t require PMI, your new loan won’t require it, either.

I pay PMI now. Will my PMI payments go up with a new HARP refinance?

No, your private mortgage insurance payments will not increase. However, the “transfer” of your mortgage insurance policy may require an extra step and additional time to process your new loan. Remind your lender that you’re paying PMI to help the refinance process move more smoothly.

My bank says I can’t refinance with HARP because I have PMI. Is that true?

No, it’s not true. The are likely too lazy to want to do it at this point in time.  You can refinance via HARP even if your current mortgage has private mortgage insurance and your mortgage insurance payments will NOT increase.

Why does my loan officer tell me I can’t refinance with HARP because my current mortgage has PMI?

The HARP program has been updated in 2012. There are new rules and guidelines and not every bank is up-to-speed on what’s going on. Add that to a pretty big drop in interest rates and may lenders have not gotten fully trained.  If you’re hearing that you can’t refinance your current mortgage because it has PMI on it, that’s a signal that you’re working with second rate loan officer. You may want to shop around for a strong professional loan officer. Click here for a HARP rate quote.

My current mortgage has Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance (LPMI).  Am I or can I become HARP eligible?

Yes, you can refinance your mortgage via HARP if your current loan has lender-paid mortgage insurance (LPMI). It’s your loan officer’s responsibility to make sure that your new mortgage carries, at minimum, the same amount of coverage.  Some additional documentation from your current loan may be needed to ease the process.

I have no idea what that means. How do I choose my PMI coverage when I refinance a HARP loan that has LPMI?

That is not yours to worry about.  Presuming you hire a professional loan officer for your new loan, he or she will know what to do. Just make sure you tell them that your mortgage has LPMI so the bank knows what to do. Otherwise, your loan could be delayed in processing and you could blow your rate lock. Click here to get todays mortgage rate quoted.

How do I know if my mortgage has Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance (LPMI)?

To find out if your mortgage has lender-paid mortgage insurance (LPMI), locate your loan paperwork from your last closing. There should be a clear disclosure that states that your mortgage features LPMI, and the terms should be clearly labeled for you.

I don’t see an LPMI disclosure in my closing package but I think that I have it.  How do I know if my mortgage has LPMI?

If there is no LPMI disclosure, first check if your first mortgage’s loan-to-value exceeded 80% at the time of closing. If it did, look to see if you are paying monthly mortgage insurance. If you are not paying monthly PMI, you’re likely carrying LPMI.  Follow these three steps in order to back into the answer.

What’s the bottom line with HARP refinances and mortgage insurance?

The bottom line is that you are eligible for a HARP if you have PMI.  It needs to be accurately moved to the new loan, regardless of whether it is Lender Paid, or Borrower Paid.

What if my lender won’t give me a HARP refinance because I have mortgage insurance?

If your lender tells you that you can’t have a HARP  loan because you have mortgage insurance, find a new lender. There are plenty that of lenders that want to earn your business. Click here for a HARP rate quote, even if you currently have PMI.

What’s the biggest mortgage I can get with a HARP refinance?

For the most part, the answer is $471,000.  However exceptions apply in higher cost areas or if you live in a 2-4 unit property.

Can I do a cash-out refinances with HARP?

No, the HARP mortgage program doesn’t allow cash out refinance.

Can I refinance a second/vacation home with HARP?

Yes, you can refinance a second/vacation property with HARP, even if the home was once your primary residence. The loan must meet typical program eligibility standards.

Can I refinance an investment/rental property with HARP?

Yes, you can refinance an investment/rental property with HARP, even if the home was once your primary residence. You can refinance a home on which you’re an “accidental landlord”. The loan must meet typical program eligibility standards.

I rent out my old home. Is it HARP-eligible even though it’s an investment property now?

Yes, you can use the HARP Refinance program for your former residence — even if there’s a renter there now.

How long do I have to stay in my house if I use HARP on my primary residence?

There is no specific timeframe for which you’re required to stay in your home if you use HARP.  Just like any other mortgage, if you plan to stay in your home post-closing, it’s your primary residence. If you plan to turn it into a rental, it’s an investment property. Click here HARP rate quote.

Why is my current lender saying your information is not right?

Either the call center rep has not been trained (more likely) or they have been trained to give the answers that are most likely to generate the results the lender wants.  Not necessarily the best results for you.

Are condominiums eligible for HARP refinancing?

Yes, condominiums can be financed on the HARP refinance program. The condo project must be warrantable.  Ask your loan officer for more info.

My lender says that condos can’t be refinanced via HARP?

That’s not true. Condominiums can be financed on the HARP refinance program. If your current lender has decided they are not making HARP refinances on condos available. Many other lenders will be interested in your business.  Including the one I work for. Click here for a HARP rate quote on your condo.

Can I consolidate mortgages with a HARP refinance?

No, if you have junior liens on your property, you will have to subordinate them.

If I refinance my mortgage with a HARP loan, what happens to my second mortgage (HELOC)?

Nothing, is the short answer.  HARP is for first liens only. Second liens are must subordinate. Your new loan will replace your existing first mortgage.  Your second mortgage will remain in place and be subordinated by that lender. Make sure to mention your second mortgage when you apply so your lender knows to order the subordination for you.

My second mortgage company won’t let me refinance my first mortgage via HARP. Can they do that?

In theory.  Lenders are supposed to approve the subordinations with no hassle.  However, it is ultimately up to each lender to do so in each individual case.  If your second mortgage is owned by one of the big 4 banks (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo), your subordination is likely to be approved, even if it takes some time.

My second mortgage has nothing to do with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Is that an issue?

No. Second mortgages are not factored into your first mortgage’s eligibility for the HARP program.  They can’t be refinanced nor consolidated.  They must be subordinated.

I have an 80/10/10 mortgage.  Am I, or can I become HARP eligible?

Yes, assuming your loan meets the requirements but you must keep the 80/10/10 structure.  You cannot combine the loans.

I have an 80/20 mortgage. Am I, or can I become HARP eligible?

Yes, assuming your loan meets the requirements but you must keep the 80/10/10 structure.  You cannot combine the loans.

My lender says they don’t do HARP loans and I want to refinance. What do I do?

If your current lender is not setup for HARP, find a new lender. Plenty of lenders will be happy to try and earn your business. Click here for a HARP rate quote.

Can I “roll in” my closing costs with a HARP refinance?

Yes, your current mortgage balance can be increased to cover closing costs in addition to escrow reserves, daily interest, and your closing costs.  In no cases may loan sizes exceed the local conforming loan limits, however.

Is HARP the same thing as HAMP?

No. HARP stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program and is designed to allow homeowners who have experienced a drop in property value to refinance.  HAMP stands for Home Affordable Modification Program and is designed to help borrowers struggling to make their existing payments stay in their homes. Both programs are supported by “Making Home Affordable”, but are effectively two different branches of the same tree.

I used HAMP with my current lender. Can I use HARP now?

Maybe.  If you’ve used the HAMP program with your current lender to modify your mortgage, you may not be HARP-eligible. It depends on the terms of your modification. Ask your current servicer if you’re HARP-eligible. Or, if you’d like, you can click here to get a HARP rate quote.

I am now divorced but was married and took my mortgage out with my ex. I now want to remove my ex-spouse from the mortgage. Can I do that?

Yes.  A borrower on the mortgage can be removed through the refinance as long as that person is also removed from the deed (title) and has no interest in the property moving forward. Click here for a rate quote.

Do HARP refinances use Loan-Level Pricing Adjustments (LLPAs)?

Yes, HARP mortgages use loan-level pricing adjustments.  However they are dramatically reduced on a HARP refinances and, in some cases, eliminated.   For example, there are no LLPAs for fixed-rate HARP refinances with terms of 20 years or fewer. For all other loans, loan-level pricing adjustments are capped at 0.75 points.

Does a HARP Refinances require LLPAs for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage?

No, there are no LLPAs for 15-year fixed rate mortgage via the HARP Refinance program.

Is there a minimum credit score to use the HARP program?

No, HARP has not minimum credit score in the guidelines.  However most lenders do have a minimum score.

Do I have to refinance my mortgage with my current lender?

No, you can do a HARP refinance with any participating lender you want. Click here for a HARP rate quote.

My current lender tells me that if I want to do a HARP refinance, I have to go through him. Is that true?

No, it’s not true. It’s either an uninformed call center employee, or a sales “tactic” to keep you “with them”.  You are allowed to do a HARP refinance with any HARP participating lender.

My bank called me for a HARP refinance. The rate seems high. Should I shop around?

Yes, you should always shop any mortgage rate quote. Many lenders quote the rates a bit high to current customers figuring you may not shop around.  You may save a lot of money just by getting a second opinion. Click here for a second opinion rate quote.

Where can I get the lowest rates on HARP loans?

The HARP program is just like any other mortgage.  You want to shop around for the best combination of rates, fees and service. Yes, you should always shop any mortgage rate quote. Many lenders quote the rates a bit high to current customers figuring you may not shop around.  However, because HARP is a “specialty loan”, you may want to limit your shopping with reputable lenders that know how to specifically handle HARP loans. Click here to see HARP mortgage rates.

What are the HARP loan closing costs?

Closing costs for HARP refinances should be no different than for any other mortgage. You may pay points, you may pay closing costs, you may pay neither. How your mortgage rate and loan fees are structured is between you and your loan officer. You can even opt for a zero-cost HARP refinance. Ask your loan officer about it.

What does the term “DU Refi Plus” mean?

“DU Refi Plus” is the brand name Fannie Mae assigned to its particular flavor of the HARP mortgage program. “DU” stands for Desktop Underwriter. It’s a software program that simulates mortgage underwriting. “Refi Plus” is a gimmicky-sounding term that could have been anything. The name has been trademarked, however.

What does the term “Relief Refinance” mean?

“Relief Refinance” is the Freddie Mac equivalent of DU Refi+.

I have a 40-year mortgage.  Am I or can I become HARP eligible?

Yes, if you have a 40-year mortgage, you can use HARP. You must make sure that you mortgage is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, though, and that you meet all other eligibility requirements.

My lender says it’s not set up for Freddie Mac. How do I do a HARP loan?

Not every bank is participating in the HARP program. If you’ve been told that your lender can’t or won’t help you, just try with a different lender. There are many lenders happy to try and earn your business. Get a rate quote.  Click here.

When does the HARP program end?

If you are HARP-eligible, you must close on your mortgage prior to January 1, 2014.

How do I apply for the HARP program?

Use this form to get a rate quote. Assuming the rate looks good, you can begin the process. There is no fee for applying.

Apply For HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program)

When you’re ready to see mortgage rates, click here for a free HARP rate quote.

Please keep in mind that The Home Affordable Refinance Program is not meant to save a home from foreclosure. It’s meant to give underwater homeowners a chance to refinance without paying PMI.

If you, or someone you know needs foreclosure help, call your current loan servicer immediately.